Students collect seeds for an experiment and a language/art project. They begin class experiments in plant growth using beans. They develop independent experiments in plant growth.

There are many growing activities in this section, some of which need darkness. Plan ahead for adequate space to set up:

2 experiments with outside collected seeds (2 pans for socks or 2 planter containers for boot scrapings).

12 containers for each of 4 teams in the class bean experiments.

4-12 containers for each of 4-12 teams in the independent growing experiments.


Alaska Standards

To understand the varied growing conditions needed by different plants.

To learn indigenous plants’ names and characteristics.

Science: A. 12, 14, 15; B. 1, 5; C. 1, 5; D. 1
World Languages: B. 1
Geography: A. 2, C. 1, 2;
Mathematics: A. 5
Skills for a Healthy life: B. 1, 3

To use problem-solving skills in planning an experiment and using the scientific process.

Science: B. 1, 2, 3, 5; C
English: C; D
Mathematics: A. 2, 3, 6; C. 1

To understand local cultural heritage and stewardship for the environment.

English: A; B. 2, 3; C; D. 1, 2, 4; E
Cultural: A. 3, 4, 5, 6; B. 2; C. 1, 3; D. 1, 3, 4; E. 1, 4
History: B. 1
Arts: A. 3; B. 8


  • log book
  • pencils, pens
  • hand lens
  • watering can with small spout (optional, but helpful for neatness during all Section Three activities)

Dirty a Sock/ Clean a Boot

  • 2 large fuzzy socks (if seed collecting on a dry day). They should fit over student shoes. Socks will be buried in a planting container for this activity, so be sure they are socks that no one wants any more. Fuzzy socks will give you the best collection of seeds. They do not need to be a pair.
  • 2 pairs of rubber boots (if seed collecting on a wet day)
  • planting containers: for the socks, two shallow pans 2-3 inches deep (5-7.5 cm) and broad enough so that the socks can lay flat. For the boot scrapings, 2 flower pots or similar containers that will allow water drainage.
  • plastic bags to carry socks or boot mud back to the classroom
  • labels such as masking tape, or cut paper glued or taped to a straw or stick
  • water
  • measuring cup
  • waterproof marking pen
  • freezer
  • soil
  • clear plastic food wrap
  • clipboard or stiff cardboard with recording paper
  • paper
  • ruler
  • calendar labeled SEED CALENDAR and arranged for the 4 weeks of this activity

Bean Experiments:

  • dried beans: select the largest variety of any or all of these: pinto, red kidney, lima. (You may wish to test these beans one week before students begin to use them to confirm the best germinating beans available in your area. Our experiments showed the greatest success with pinto beans.) Allow 20-25 beans per student for class experiments and independent experiments
  • glass jars, one for every 2 students
  • water
  • paper towels
  • clear drinking glasses or cups, a minimum of 3 inches ( 76 mm) tall. (48 for class bean experiments). These should be the same type and size within each of the 4 teams although they may vary from team to team.
  • containers for planting independent experiments (as needed)
  • trays or cookie sheets to hold each team’s planted cups
  • graph paper
  • refrigerator
  • large sheets of paper for whole class activity.

Seed illustrations


  • Plant Illustration Cards from the Appendix marked with symbol. On the Cards, UT refers to the page number on which the plant is found in Aleut Dictionary/Unangam Tunudgusii.
  • markers or pens for labeling seed bags
  • field guides (See Resources in the Appendix for list)
  • plastic bags, in a variety of sizes to carry plant specimens: zip-loc or with twisties, one per student
  • sandwich-size zip-loc bags, one per student
  • paper lunch sacks, quantity to equal number of students
  • masking tape or white labels for each bag
  • paper clips


  • seeds collected during STEP ONE in a quantity so that each student has a different one
    If locally gathered seeds are not found in sufficient quantity for each student to have a different one, try an alternate:
    1. Divide student-collected seeds so that several students will study a similar seed.
    2. Use purchased or readily available seeds. The following are listed in the Aleut Dictionary /Unangam Tunudgusii. Most of them are Russian loan words adapted to Unangam tunuu grammar: apple, orange, onion, corn, cranberry, mustard seed, oak, oats, potato.
    3. If you use seeds that have no corresponding name in Unangam tunuu, students should select descriptive words from the Glossary for the Native language component.
  • crayons and colored pencils
  • paints (poster or watercolor) in primary, secondary colors and black
  • black markers with fine or bold tips
  • colored markers with fine and bold tips that match the paints for lettering, if possible
  • paper for sketching and painting trials, including large unlined newsprint
  • erasers
  • poster board or similar large paper for final poster—the largest size available
  • Dictionary: Aleut Dictionary/Unangam Tunudgusii, at least 2. If your school does not have a classroom set that teachers may check out, consider putting in a purchase request.
  • Unangam tunuu vocabulary (see Glossary in the Appendix) enlarged and posted for whole class use

Optional: Fast Plants seeds, curriculum, and related materials. If you are using Fast Plants, you may wish to omit activities 3-6 because they cover similar material.


ACTIVITY ONE. Students collect and plant seeds in Dirty a Sock or Clean a Boot.

Outside activity/inside activity (best conducted in the fall).
Estimated duration: collecting: 10-20 minutes plus travel time
follow-up: 5-10 minutes daily for selected students

Dirty a Sock: If the weather is dry. Select 2 students to wear an old sock over a shoe and walk through a habitat to collect seeds on the socks.

Clean a Boot: If the weather is wet. Select 2 students to wear boots and walk through a habitat to collect seeds on the boots.

After returning to class, organize the students to plant, observe and monitor the seed growth. Set up a PLANTING COMMITTEE and a CARETAKER COMMITTEE. Also set up a calendar for the next 4 weeks and have each student responsible for one day (or more) as an OBSERVER. Write each student’s name by the date/day when s/he is to make observations. Display the calendar in a conspicuous location.

Results will vary in this activity. Seed growth may be wildly successful or few may sprout. Seeds prefer a dormant period in many Alaska habitats and replicating that time by placing the seed collection in a freezer may or may not succeed depending on your location, the time of the year, and other variables.

ACTIVITY TWO. In a 3-step project, students make a poster close-up illustration of one seed.

In step one, students revisit habitat areas to collect seeds and related plant parts. Their collecting is guided by the Plant Illustration Cards from the Appendix. In step 2, students sketch and refine a drawing while carefully examining one seed. They add appropriate names and descriptive words in Latin, Unangam Tunuu, and English, while emphasizing the Unangam Tunuu. In step 3, they plan and produce a poster. See language description at the end of this section.

Outside activity/Inside activity
Estimated duration: Step one, 30-40 minutes plus travel time
Step two, 40-60 minutes
Step three, 40-60 minutes

STEP ONE: Seed Gathering and Identification

STEP TWO: Observation and Sketching

Give each student a single seed for observation and sketching. Students may not choose the seed themselves. Everyone will have a different seed if possible. Post the Unangam Tunuu Glossary words for the class to see. Other language resources are included at the end of the teacher pages.

STEP THREE: Plan and Produce the Poster

Students should plan to display the posters with their other work during the community celebration at the end of the plant study.

ACTIVITY THREE. Students begin observations and experiments with beans. Remind students to use senses in addition to sight for this activity. Plan to begin this activity on a Monday or Tuesday. The soaking beans will rot and ferment if left unattended for several days.

Inside activity
Estimated duration: day one, 10 minutes
day two, 40-50 minutes

ACTIVITY FOUR. Students review setting up your experiment using the supplied form from the Appendix and the activities in Dirty a Sock or Clean a Boot Activity One. The whole class fills out the form. Suggested Activity Four form completion example in the Appendix

Inside activity
Estimated duration: 20-30 minutes

ACTIVITY FIVE. Students work in 4 teams to conduct 4 directed experiments in bean germination and growth.

Inside activity
Estimated duration: set-up, 15 minutes
experiment follow-up, 15 minutes daily for 14 days

Students complete the SETTING UP YOUR EXPERIMENT form for each experiment.

Caution: Before the students begin this activity, you will want to experiment with a glass to discover how many pieces of paper towel should be crumpled in each glass. When wedged in place, the bean seed will need oxygen, so it should not be too tight between the paper towel and the glass. Nor should the bean seed be too loose and able to slip down the side of the glass.

ACTIVITY SIX. Students work in partners or teams to design and conduct an independent experiment in bean germination and growth.

Inside activity
Estimated duration: set-up, 20-30 minutes
experiment follow-up, varies by experiment

Reference resources for experiments and science fair activities are located in the Resources section in the Appendix.

Assessment opportunity: Student names four parts of a seed and describes the term, hypothesis.
Students complete self-assessment rubrics, Three.
Teacher completes assessment rubric, Three, for each student.

For the Unangam Tunuu element of ACTIVITY TWO, the student uses attested words—plant names and descriptive words. Attested words are those recorded by an accepted linguist in a specific place and year. The Aleut Dictionary/Unangam Tunudgusii provides this information for each entry. Some words from the Dictionary have been included in vocabulary selections throughout the plant unit. These words are also listed in the Glossary in the Appendix.

If the student’s word choice for Unangam Tunuu is not from the list in the Glossary, s/he should cite one of the recommended published sources, a tradition bearer (this can be an Elder or a local expert), or a linguist. The source should be written on the back of the final poster (e.g., UT p 353 Saaqud(a)m iimkaaluu—flower stem of cow parsnip). This methodology is to validate knowledge of the language which was recently standardized. People have just begun to use the Dictionary, published in 1994, the most complete and accurate for this language.

Recommended references:

Bergsland, Knut and Moses L. Dirks. Aleut Dictionary/Unangam Tunudgusii. 1994. Alaska Native Language Center. University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Golley, Nadesta. At{am Hitnisangis/Atkan Plants. 1973. Alaska State Operated Schools. Book 14 of 1973 Atkan educational series.

Golodoff, Suzi. Flowering Plants of Unalaska. Forthcoming. University of Alaska Press.

For examples of word and illustration design similar to this project, see Rain Makes Applesauce, by Julian Scheer, and Bird Egg Feather Nest or Seed Leaf Flower Fruit, by Maryjo Koch.


Teacher Assessment Rubric, Section Three

Name of student: ___________________________________________
  1. Always 2. Sometimes 3. Never

Stays on task.


Completes work.


Asks questions.


Contributes to group's work.


Understands the information.


Needs help with:






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